Since I am a documentary filmmaker, I am always looking for interesting topics to cover and one idea I’ve had for a long time is to feature black athletes in unusual sports. Sure we all know about Tiger Woods, or the Williams sisters but those forays into country club sports barely register. I’m talking about the black hockey players, NASCAR drivers, and Bull Riders (not to mention Motocross). But in the end, while it has a small amount of Gee Whiz! factor, it’s basically just a talking dog story (lookit! that negro makes left turns just like us white folk!).
And while I don’t subscribe to the post-racial version of America people tried peddle for a second, I don’t think race by itself is that interesting a subject anymore- not without class. Race is still (and should remain) an important part of understanding America, its history, and why society looks and functions (for some) the way it does today. James Baldwin could have the same career today, writing basically the same stuff. It’s just that I think that class has emerged in the last few decades (since Reagan) as the real third rail and it’s something we don’t really talk about.
A perfect example of this is Wisconsin. As soon as the elections were over, everyone said that Wisconsin was a Tea Party win. They kicked out Feingold, elected Walker. It’s a sad and disheartening fact, but also well known, that Tea Party politics rely heavily on racial animus. ‘Take Our Country Back’ is freighted with meaning dependent on the speaker.
But it turns out, the real story of the November ’10 elections wasn’t new and had little to do with whatever the Tea Party thinks it’s politics are. No it was the well worn tale of Republicans once again using fear to get (white) people to vote against their own (economic) interests. Once in power they show their true colors and all hell breaks loose. You don’t need me to tell you, that’s why you’ve been blowing up Mother’s Jones’ website lately.
But something awesome happened on the way to another by now rote Thomas Frank editorial in Harpers. This guy showed up. A black, gay, Tea Party republican who despises unions and self-proclaims his membership in the top 1%.
My reaction to him is probably akin to you waking up next to Megan Fox. This guy’s very existence is like Viagra to Roger Ailles & Co. If he didn’t exist, Frank Luntz would have to create him, to negate all of your leftist, progressive, claptrap and hoist you on your own petard. After all, who amongst us could be more of a social pariah than a black, gay, male? Are there any fears the republicans stoke that are not included (or inferred) in those adjectives? (I suppose he could be a Muslim but that would be like having Regan’s birthday be celebrated every December 25th, too much right-wing awesome.)
Even though the laws of physics might preclude us from being in the same space, I HAVE to see MOAR. Yes. Yes to everything from now on. This gay Tea Party HERO exists, your argument is invalid. I no longer require scientific certainty about Bigfoot, Yeti or Loch Ness Monsters. Yes. Yes. And More Yes. I now have an answer for that boring interview question about who I would have dinner with dead or alive.
Sure, we could over-analyze him* and assume he has been seduced into believing that his affluence provides a buffer against any issues relating to his race and sexuality; that is to say, in his circles, his class status renders his blackness and gayness irrelevant*.
But not yet, not now. For just a little bit longer, I want to believe in transubstantiation, unicorns, and that tax cuts for the rich grow economies. I’ll wake up soon.
*it’s an excellent analysis by the way.